If you’re planning on launching a freelance career, side hustle, product, or you already own a kickass business then knowing how to start a blog is the way forward. Seriously, blogging is a force on its own, and whether you’re planning on creating a blog for hobby or profit, it can be a pretty straightforward task when you know the proactive steps to take you in the right direction.
I’ve set up a few blogs over the years and one of my favourite platforms is WordPress. Why go with WordPress? I’ve used Blogger, Squarespace and WordPress, and for me, WordPress is the most professional, flexible and search engine friendly of the lot. The first time I set up this blog on WordPress, it was overwhelming, but as a freelancer, I needed to figure it out for uploading work for clients. I gotta say, knowing what I know now, I would happily take this platform over Blogger (though Squarespace is pretty awesome too – have a read of my pros and cons of Squarespace for bloggers here.
Starting up a WordPress blog comprises of five elements. I’m not down with this whole start your blog in five minutes bullshit, but, it is pretty straightforward and if you follow the steps below, you’ll be well on your way to successfully establishing an epic blog.
How to start a blog
Choose a name
Deciding on a name for your blog can be the most time consuming step, especially if you have yet to find a vision for your brand or a niche. When it came to naming my first ever blog, several years ago, I spent ages trying to pick the perfect name. For Diary of a Freelancer, it was a pretty quick decision. If you already have a business or a product then you’re pretty much good to go as I’d highly reccomend sticking with the same name. For those of you struggling to choose a blog name, take a few things into consideration;
- If you’re starting a blog to boost your freelance career or for a side hustle then consider using your own name. Sure, its not the most original idea, but it looks professional and anyone searching for your work will easily be able to find your blog.
- If you’re starting a blog as a hobby or are hoping to monetise it further down the line then consider your niche. If you’re starting a fashion blog then you might want to add ‘fashion’, ‘style’ or ‘chic’ to your name. Similarly, if you’re planning on writing a food blog then add a food related word. Yes, its simple, but its direct – anyone finding your blog will know straight away what your blog is about.
- Alternatively, you may want something completely unique. If that’s the case then be adventurous. Gain inspiration from family, friends, social media, books, television shows…anything that can help you to brain storm an idea.
- Make sure you search your chosen name in google and in domain name providers as you’ll need to ensure that there is no other blog or company with the same name.
Decide between free and paid hosting
WordPress offer a free option, which is ideal for those wanting to create a blog, without having to spend any initial investment. However, you’re limited as you cant use your own domain name or personalised blog design.
If you want the free option
Go to WordPress.com and sign up for a new account. Type in your blog name to get your free WordPress domain (you would need to pay extra to use your own personal domain). Free domains end in wordpress.com
You’ll then need to choose a username and password. Enter your email and check your emails to activate your WordPress account. Log in to your new account and you’ll find the dashboard on your left hand side. Head to personalize and themes, where you’ll be able to find a free design theme. Select live preview to view how your blog will look and when you’ve found the one for you, click save and activate.
Click on configure and settings to establish your security settings and comment settings. To add plugins, go to configure and plugins or visit https://en.support.wordpress.com/plugins/ to learn more about what you can add to your free WordPress blog.
You can then add content by clicking on blog posts under publish on the left hand dashboard.
If you want the paid option
For paid WordPress, head to wordpress.org This is what I use for Diary of a Freelancer. From here, you’ll be able to create a badass blog within a few minutes. At this point, you should have your blog name and have checked that your preferred name is free with a domain name provider.
Find a host
As wordpress.org requires self hosting, you’ll need to find a provider to host your blog. This is essentially where your blog will ‘live’. There are several providers – I personally recommend 1and1
Advantages of using 1and1
- completely hassle free and easy setup
- Affordable payment plan
- They take care of any updates regarding the WordPress platform
- You can test how optimised your website is
- Takes care of your online marketing needs
- Expert support
I use the WordPress Unlimited package which literally gives you everything you need, including unlimited webspace, a free domain, unlimited email accounts and complete enhanced security and webspace recovery.
Regardless of the host or package you choose, once you’ve chosen the ideal plan for you and your needs and entered your payment details, its time to set up your blog.
1.First, you’ll need to download WordPress org. Go to the website and save it to your computer. If you’ve opted with 1and1, go to your dashboard and click on MYSQLAdministration under the database section.
2. Next, click New Database and enter a description and password (note, you’ll probably want to ensure you’ve got a complicated password for security reasons!). Once you’ve done this, click set up. You’ll then be given details about your database setup, which you should make a note of.
3. Next, you’re going to upload WordPress by clicking on webspace explorer under access in the hosting section of your dashboard. Click upload at the top of the window in the webspace explorer window. Now select the wordpress file that you downloaded to your computer and click ok.
4. Once you’ve uploaded it, click unzip (at the top of the webspace explorer window), click on the drive icon in the following pop up window (the top icon) and click ok.
5. In your 1and1 dashboard, click on manage domains in the domain section. Check the box on the left hand side next to your target domain and click ‘destination’ and then ‘edit destination’ from the drop down box.
6. Click edit and then search, in the pop up window, find your wordpress folder and click save. Then click ok to save.
7. It may take some time for your site to be set up, however, once everything has been updated, you should see a WordPress notice that you dont have a wp-config.php file. On this notice, click on create a configuration file, you’ll then need to enter the information you saved in step 2.
8. Once you’ve entered all the required information, click submit. You should then be asked to run install. Click this button and enter your site title, username, password and email and click install. You should then be set up and you can enter the username and password you just created. You should now have access to your WordPress dashboard.
Find a blog design
You’ll now be interested in customising your blog to make it look epic. You may already have a designer on board, but, if not, I highly suggest taking a look at etsy. You’ll find a range of wordpress templates for around £20 and they’re very handy if you’re just starting out on your blogging journey.
Start writing your content
Now the good stuff! Its time to get writing and getting your content out there. Planning your content can be a challenge, which is why you can download my Get Started! Blog Planner completely free to help you on your way. This five page planner includes an editorial calendar, mood board for inspiration, post planner, blog stats tracker and email contact list.
To receive this epic blog freebie, just fill in the form below and check your email inbox for your completely free blog planner.